Two potential horses to lease: thoughts on which might be a better dressage partner?
Caveat: I'm certainly not at the point of being a competitive dressage rider yet, and I don't think either of these horses would be the right candidate to go much beyond Level 1, maybe Level 2...but I would love your thoughts!
Candidate one: 11 y.o. TB mare, former eventer. Very responsive to aids--if I wiggle a finger incorrectly, she's going to make it clear that I screwed up. Gorgeous looker, attitude up the wazoo. Beautiful sitting trot, though getting forward without having her hollow her back is a struggle (that's me, not her). An old injury means that she canters quite oddly--sort of corkscrews her left hock leg under her, so her flying lead changes are...interesting. We get along well, but she's a mare through and through.
Candidate two: 8 y.o. OTTB. When you ride him, you WORK. We've been tackling the basics: keeping a bend on a circle, keeping him forward and on the bit, turning his giant canter into something resembling a collected gait, etc. He's a big sweet scaredy-cat. Most students don't handle his spooking well, but he and I have a rapport and I don't escalate his flight/fight responses.
Here's why I'm torn: the mare is more responsive, but the gelding really makes me use every muscle I have. At this point, I feel like the biggest things holding me back are my (not so strong) leg muscles and my too-forward seat. I know there's really no easy way to choose a horse without seeing the rider on it, but if you have any thoughts at all I'd be grateful. I asked my instructor, too, but she feels that both horses would really benefit from the dressage work (they're not usually used for that, as our barn is more hunter focused). Like I said, I know there's nothing concrete you can probably say - but if you were still early in your learning, would you want a horse that's more sensitive, or a horse that asks a bit more of you up front? They are both willing to learn (and tolerate me :)).
Without seeing either of the horses, from the descriptions, neither of the horses sounds like a good choice.
The horse that 'corkscrews' the one leg, first of all, is unsound. I've been around horses long enough to realize that.
The one you have to 'WORK' for and spooks, that would be a no also.
And I'm not considering, in any way, shape or form, competition.
1. Buying a horse and having it go dead lame after a few months of riding, so you can't sell it and can't ride it.
2. Finding out that the 'have to WORK' and 'spooking' become amazingly worse after a short honeymoon period, as they do about 99% of the time, especially given what you're finding to be a challenge right now, plus that when you are the only person riding the horse, that 'I don't cause his fear response' will be an explanation/theory that will not apply any more.
I'm thinking about enjoying a process, learning, having fun and not throwing money down a drain.
I see what you're saying, but for the price of the lease and the fact that I really like both horses, I don't consider it money down the drain!
(should have mentioned: the lease isn't buying the horse-sorry if that was unclear)
I agree about the unsoundness with the mare. I'm actually pretty annoyed that they keep using her at all...think I'll stick with the gelding.
ETA: I've been riding for many years and working with horses for longer than that -- but after a few years off, my legs are still getting redeveloped and my hunt seat isn't exactly cutting it for more flatwork. Just realized I sound like a total newbie, which I'm not. Hope that helps!
Good luck; at least it's a lease instead of a purchase.
I would definitely go with the gelding. Like SLC says, the mare has an unsoundness issue. It sounds like the gelding needs to bond with you and trust you - while recognizing you as being in charge. I know you want to do dressage with him, but because he is spooky, you should try and do everything else with him too. Get him to the point where you can tie plastic bags all over him and walk him around like that. Teach him to drag an inner tube or a tarp around the ring and not spook at it. Start small and work up to the big stuff. Be patient, keep up with your lessons, and above all, have fun!
Go with the gelding, the mare could get you disqualified from judges saying she is unsound.
The judges won't disqualify a horse for swinging its leg - what they would disqualify for, is uneven strides - say one hind leg striding short - the swinging leg, though, is really very likely to take an uneven length of stride as well.
The judges also won't disqualify a dressage horse in a recognized show unless the lameness is seen at all 3 gaits - but again, with that, most dressage judges have a very good eye for lameness - and often will see it in all 3 gaits.
Generally, too, judges will not state the horse is unsound, but that it is uneven. Kind of keeping the issue more neutral.
My old mare used to do the "corkscrew" motion that you are referring to. She's as sound as ever and is jumping and doing dressage with her new owner.
It's probably conformational.
i think the gelding will develop you more as a rider which is what you want
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